On the hill: The extreme VIP | AspenTimes.com

On the hill: The extreme VIP

ASPEN – I’m not a fan of crowds, buses and teenagers, but I love the X Games. It’s a contradiction in terms but it works for me on a number of levels.

The amount of energy (drinks) the event brings to town is awesome, and I don’t think there was a watering hole or restaurant that wasn’t packed this past weekend. It makes me happy to see local business doing well and reminds me that all is OK in our little world.

There was that same energy times 10 at the venue, which was masterfully designed by ESPN, Skico and hundreds of paid crew members and volunteers. It’s just shocking to see how the base of Buttermilk can be transformed into a vortex of extreme that can withstand tens of thousands of teenagers at full tilt. It looked equally awesome on TV. There wasn’t a bad view from any vantage point.

Not even outside of the VIP tent. On the venue’s east side, it’s a whole different world that’s definitely not on the radar of the masses. They don’t realize that there’s a more tolerable way to experience the X Games. Thanks to the sponsors and ESPN who are responsible for making this event free. As a thank-you and as an acknowledgment, ESPN hosts an elaborate VIP tent for sponsors. So while thousands are freezing their butts off with no warming hut in sight, the generous donors are sipping wine, dining on lunch and dinner, and relaxing in a heated tent.

Every year ESPN and the event planner, Janine Gunning, owner of the Scene Rental Inc., come up with a new theme, and every year it’s better than before. This year the tent mimicked the inside of an airplane, complete with the fuselage, runway lights and killer lounge seats.

Denver-based Epicurean Catering had a lengthwise table designed as a wing. Over four days, dozens of dishes were served up. Imagine being at the X Games and nibbling on cheese fondue, elk, venison, wild boar, pasta, meatballs, steak, crab dip, crab cakes and cheesecake – to name a fraction of what was offered. Well, that’s how the other half lives.

I know there are some thinking how did I get to be so important to gain access? I was just a lowly worker inside making sure the event planner had what she needed.

Kudos to the caterer, the event planner and ESPN for making sponsors feel welcome and comfortable. It went off without a hitch as far as I could tell. Maybe that’s because I was warm, happy and away from masses.


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